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This Year's Vitally Important 500th Anniversary

A guest post by Jason A. Van Bemmel

I love church history. Like most leaders in the Reformed Protestant tradition, I'm excited about next year's 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Whether you are Protestant or not, this is an important milestone in the history of the world and one for which you should be thankful. But that's next year.

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 16:15 -- john_hendryx

Lectures on Preaching

Dr. Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D. C., speaking at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky

1. The Symbol and Significance of Preaching

2. The Use of Preaching

3. The Art of Preaching

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Thu, 10/27/2016 - 14:14 -- john_hendryx

Resources for Studying the Law and the Gospel

Adapted from Jon English Lee

A proper understanding of the relationship between the law and the gospel is crucial for any minister hoping to be effective in his preaching and counseling. Indeed, a flawed understanding of the relationship between law and gospel leads to all sorts of problems:

Errors in this doctrine have spawned dispensationalism, theonomy, the New Perspective on Paul, hypercovenantalism, legalism, antinomianism, shallow evangelism, shallower sanctification, worship errors and unbiblical mysticism.

Regarding the importance properly understanding the law and the gospel, Charles Bridges once wrote in his excellent work The Christian Ministry that:

The mark of a minister “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” is, that he “rightly divides the word of truth.” …This revelation is divided into two parts—the Law and the Gospel—essentially distinct form each other; though so intimately connected, that an accurate knowledge of neither can be obtained without the other.”[2]

Because such a proper understanding is so important, and because there is such a lack of teaching on the subject in both seminaries and in many churches, below I have compiled a list of resources for those seeking to grow in this area. If you have others to suggest, please list them in the comment section. Happy Reading!

Law/Gospel Resources:

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 17:21 -- john_hendryx

Why Don't Christians Follow Old Testament "rules" Such as Abstaining from Shrimp?

Visitor: Some people quote Old Testament "rules" about some things while they sit there on the Sabbath eating shrimp while wearing blended fiber clothes that cover a cute tattoo of an American flag. All of those things being forbidden by the same book they're using to condemn something else.....

Response: Forbidding the eating of shrimp was one directive for the Jews to be set apart from the unclean Gentiles as God's holy people. Jesus fulfilled the law and now He includes Gentiles, incorporating them into God's kingdom as well. When Jesus was crucified all that separated Jew and Gentile was done away with including these theocratic laws to separate them from Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-20). Gentiles are accepted now in Christ, having been formerly unclean .... recall Peter's vision on his rooftop seeing the sheets of animals come down (Acts 10:9-16) which God said he could now eat ... because God was showing him that He now accepted Gentiles coming into the kingdom. God declared “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:15). So understood properly there is very good reason these practices were changed. Gentiles were unclean and are now included among Abraham's offspring because of Christ (Acts 9:28; Galatians 3:29). Without understanding this background to your statement it just sounds like some arbitrary change of law. But It actually has deep significance for the New Covenant which the Old Testament itself promised all along (Genesis 22:18; Ezek 36:26) God did not change. This was his redemptive plan through the whole bible from the beginning.

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 19:56 -- john_hendryx

A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation

by David and Sally Michael

Here are is an exhortation from David and Sally Michael from their conference message, “A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation”: (MP3)

Exposure to the whole counsel of God is vital, but children must also be taught to rightly understand the Word. Our children and young people need the same prodding that Paul gave to his spiritual son:

2 Timothy 2:15—Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

In a postmodern culture where it is acceptable to define your own truth, children must realize that truth is not “what a Bible verse means to me,” but rather that truth is found in discovering the author’s original intent interpreted in light of the whole message of the Bible, leading to the God-given meaning of the text. Therefore, we must guide the next generation to be students of the Word who have the necessary tools to interpret Scripture correctly, as Paul did for Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:7—Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Start with simple questions about texts as children are young, and give them more tools as they mature. This is in direct opposition to what is happening in our culture as we move from a language-based system of learning to an image base.

It will be very difficult for children to become serious students of the Word if they are used to a steady diet of sound bite technology. Over exposure to sound bite technology will reap a crop of students who are incapable of serious, careful Bible study, who will not be equipped and competent for every good work.

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 13:34 -- john_hendryx

Fathers, Catechize Your Children

On the use of catechisms for teaching children bible doctrine in the home, here is an outstanding article for parents: “The Importance and Practice of Catechism: Fathers-Instruct Your Childrenby Dr. Kim Riddlebarger. He concludes his article with these practical reminders:

First, be consistent. The best way to learn a catechism is simply to keep at it! Take “the tortoise” and not “the hare” approach. You cannot teach your child a lengthy catechism in a couple of weeks! But over time—if you keep at ityou’ll be amazed at how much children will remember and comprehend.

Second, be creative. One of the greatest obstacles to catechism is boredom. Simply reading the question and then expecting your children to recite the memorized answer is no fun for them, and they’ll come to hate the whole idea. Go ahead and stress memorization, but whenever you can, relate the catechism to the Scriptures. Most catechisms give Scripture proofs. And if you discuss the question and answer with your kids, and then relate the catechism to real life situations, current events or to movies and TV, your kids will get the sense that theology is of great value in navigating their way through life…

Third, don’t panic. Many people tell me that they are new to this and there is always the pressure to make up for lost time. Go slow. Quality time is always better than rushed and tense sessions where the kids are tired and the parents are frustrated. Do what you can when you can and have realistic expectations. Even a small amount of catechesis is better than no catechesis.

Mon, 10/10/2016 - 14:36 -- john_hendryx

Growing in Grace & Conscious of Sin

Due to a rising sense of sin, many genuine Christians, as they grow in grace, may occasionally have doubts arise as to the assurance of their conversion. We can feel that grace is declining when our awareness of inner corruption is growing. Our pride, our lusts and other corruptions swell up in our breasts and so we wonder if our conversion is real, or at least wonder where God is in all of this. Rather than being comforted, we feel extraordinary discomfort. We become worried and irritated and wonder how it is that we feel guiltier than ever.

If you are complaining to yourself in this way, let me ask you this: Were these corruptions in you before you began to sense their reality? If you are human you answered in the affirmative. You may have noticed them before but not been humbled by them, but now your soul is vexed and brought low by them. This might seem strange but actually you are finally judging yourself aright. This is not a sign of grace decay and decline but, on the contrary, a sign that you are growing in grace. If you notice your sin more, it is because you have more light, because the Lord has made you more sensitive to it. This is actually a sign that God united you to Himself in Christ, and a sign of a thriving Christian. For if God is with you, you will be more discomforted than ever in the presence of your own sin. This means the Spirit is doing His work. The result is that we may think ourselves even more vile sinners than we previously thought.

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 13:42 -- john_hendryx

Five Big Myths About Calvinism

by John Samson

I speak for many when I say that I have not always embraced the doctrines of grace or what is commonly called Calvinism. Its actually unfortunate that a man’s name is associated with the doctrines that came out of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin was not the first to articulate these truths, but merely was the chief systematizer of such doctrines. There was actually nothing in Calvin that was not first seen in Luther, and much of Luther was first found in Augustine. Luther was an Augustinian monk, of course. We would also naturally affirm that there was nothing in any of these men that was not first found in Paul and Peter and John in the New Testament.

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 18:32 -- john_hendryx

Progressive Pogrom by Steve Hays

It's an interesting time to be an orthodox Christian. 
 
1. The Obama era has emboldened the religious left as well as the secular left. Their theology (if you can call it that) is synchronized with the Zeitgeist. It's striking to see their ferocious enmity for traditional Christian theology. That was epitomized by Elizabeth Barnes (who teaches feminist philosophy at the University of Virginia), when she said:
 
I hereby declare a party on my wall for progressive Christians sick of seeing their faith tradition co-opted by people who seem unable or unwilling to understand their own cruelty. 
 
That's unintentionally comical. Progressive Christianity is entirely parasitic on orthodox Christian theology. Progressive Christianity is defined in reaction to orthodox Christianity. Imagine a Muslim complain that he's sick of seeing Christians co-opt Islam. It isn't even possible for orthodox Christians to co-opt the faith tradition of progressive Christians. Rather, progressive Christians are laboring to co-opt Christian tradition, but sterilize it in the process. Orthodox Christian tradition is the frame of reference, not progressive Christianity.  
 
In point of fact, progressive Christianity cannot be true. If you think traditional Christian theology is bad pious fiction, then, at best, progressive Christianity can only be rewritten pious fiction. Redacting offensive fiction doesn't turn it into nonfiction, but just a different brand of fiction. Indeed, derivative fiction. A fiction of a fiction. Progressive Christianity is a secondary, reactionary movement with no intrinsic identity. 
 
The enmity of militant atheists towards Christianity at least has a semblance of logicality. Atheism doesn't pretend to be Christian.
Mon, 10/03/2016 - 20:08 -- john_hendryx

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